News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Sports

October 18, 2006

Trackside: Serious injuries derail rise of young open-wheel racer

TERRE HAUTE — When a young Brian Clauson emerged on the open-wheel racing scene, he quickly earned the reputation of being fast, fearless and first on race day.

Using a driving style that rapidly won over the fans, he often drew the ire of his fellow competitors and the eye of talent-seeking NASCAR car owners.

The 17-year-old appeared to have the proverbial tiger by the tail and a promising future ahead of him — until a scary USAC sprint-car crash at Wheatland, Mo., last month literally turned his life upside down.

Serious neck injuries suddenly put him on the sidelines and temporarily grounded a rocket ride to stardom. Many within the sport who had predicted stardom for Clauson were soon casting doubts regarding his future.

Such are the ways in racing, where anything but running up front and winning is totally unacceptable.

The personable driver visited the Terre Haute Action Track during the recent Fall Harvest Classic weekend and, in between spending time with his Kunz-Willoughby Team, spoke of his recovery and what the future holds for him.

Sporting a very restrictive-looking neck brace, Clauson was upbeat and eager to get back behind the wheel of a race car.

“I’m doing fine. I went to see the doctor last week. Everything seem to be healing OK. It’s just sitting and waiting. I get my neck brace off in two weeks. Then we’ll start rehab,” Clauson said moments following the Hulman Classic.

The frightening crash in Missouri, his second major accident of the year, remains vivid in the mind of the Noblesville driver.

“I’ve watched the tape a couple of times. I have a pretty good idea what happened. I was very fortunate everything safety-wise did its job. Without the Hans device, I’d probably be in a wheelchair today,” said Clauson.

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Tribune-Star/Joseph C. Garza 55 on the stop: Indiana State's Connor Underwood tackles North Dakota State's Sam Ojuri during the Sycamores' loss to the Bison on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

Local Interest
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Tribune-Star/Bob PoynterOuch: Defending Men's City Chamion Tom Jones reacts to a missed putt on the 6th hole at Rea Park Saturday morning. Jones is seeking his 9th Men's title.

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Tribune-Star/Jim Avelis Records: Near perfect weather contributed to record attendance at racetracks around the state, including the Action Track, seen here.

Pro Sports
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It was the Knights' day: Charlotte's Josh Phegley, center, high fives teammates and coaching staff after the Knights defeated the Indianapolis Indians 8-4 on Wednesday in Indianapolis.

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